Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson Doesn't Understand Basic Economics

Sometimes, it is actually kind of amusing to observe well known figures who are completely immersed in the business-as-usual mindset as they flail about, trying to comprehend why things just don't seem to be working like they expect them to anymore. Take Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, who was interviewed on MSNBC the other day and just can't fathom why America's space program is quickly disintegrating into irrelevancy. The Raw Story has the details:
Popular astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson on Monday lamented that American culture no longer had a culture of innovation that prized scientific and technological discoveries.

Tyson noted on MSNBC that space exploration no longer captured American’s attention like it previously had. He blamed the lack of public interest on the lack of advances in the space frontier.

“You don’t have to be the scientist or engineer,” he explained. “You could be a journalist, an artist, but you start doing more stories about the frontier and all of a sudden everybody participates in inventing a tomorrow.”

“It’s the invention of tomorrow that is absent in today’s modern American culture,” Tyson continued.

“Tomorrow was everywhere in the 1960s, wasn’t it? The World’s Fair was all about tomorrow. And who enables that tomorrow? It is the scientific and technological literacy of a nation that does it. It is those innovations that are the engines of the 21st century economy.”

He added that private companies could not lead the space frontier, because of unknown risks and other factors that were detrimental to business.

“That is why governments are the ones that do the big first steps.”
I guess the fact that America has rung up over $5 trillion in new federal debt just in the past four years in a desperate attempt to to keep its economy afloat, to say nothing of the long term demographic trends which spell disaster for our major entitlement programs, must have escaped Mr. deGrasse Tyson's attention. The money to continue advancing the space program is not there...nor will it ever be there again. This serves as yet another example of how no matter how smart or accomplished a person my be in one field, it does not mean they have any clue about how things work outside that field.

Tomorrow is being invented by today's modern American culture, all right, just not in the way that Mr. deGrasse Tyson or very many others are anticipating. Our steadfast unwillingness to face our dire energy predicament virtually guarantees that we will be facing total economic collapse, likely within the next 20 years. The "innovations of the 21st century" are going to be among those who are successfully able to figure out how to adjust their lifestyles to enable them to survive in a world that will be rapidly powering down.

Bonus: "Space City is one hour up the road from hour away is about as close to the moon as anyone down here is ever gonna be"


  1. You should also be aware, in so far as I try to keep up with research in various branches of science which interest me, that Neil deGrasse Tyson is GENERALLY clueless about science as well, and a techno-optimist besides.

    So, it's not just the economy he doesn't understand.

    And I guess that's why he's anointed himself as Mr. Popular Science to America's young people. He's on PBS on all the time. Enough said.

    -- Dave

    1. I'll admit that I was only passingly familiar with the guy (the hazards of not watching much television). It never ceases to amaze me, however, that the media continues to turn to "experts" in every field who have no idea what they are talking about.

  2. Constrained resource availability, a collapsing ecosystem, a collapsing empire (as all other empires in history have collapsed)--all are taboo subjects; not for polite conversation or public discourse.

  3. As a painter and printmaker, I've grown amused by space enthusiasts who bring up artists and imply that there is so much to offer them out there.

    Like what? There are no people in outer space, no animals, no plants, no cities, no landscapes beyond craters, ALMOST NO LIGHT for cryin' out loud — which means no color. The sky (from a spaceship) is always the same: black.

    1. There is much out there that would provide an incredible artistic medium actually, the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, Saturn's rings, Mars's Valles Marineris, the bizarre twisted surface of Uranus's moon Miranda, and far beyond the Solar system who knows what incredible vistas and lands may exist on other planets, perhaps incredible and nigh unimaginable exotic life forms.
      Although it doesn't matter because we'll never get there, certainly not in our lifetimes, perhaps not ever.

  4. There are people inventing tomorrow like metal bandits and cattle rustlers.

  5. I think that the future will probably resemble the Kevin Costner movie The Postman, complete with roving neo-fascists like the Holnists, but in the real world they'll probably be called Paulists.